Fort Wayne-based Aardvark Straws says skyrocketing global demand for paper straws is driving its new parent company to announce a more than $9 million investment into a new production facility in Allen County. The move will include more than 200 additional jobs by the end of 2021. Wisconsin-based Hoffmaster Group Inc., which produces disposable paper tableware, says the expansion will allow it to ramp up paper straw making capacity 700 percent by the end of next year.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Hoffmaster Foodservice Division President Andy Romjue described the rising demand and competition for paper straws as the plastic straw market shrinks. "As you can imagine, when this type of market opportunity opens up, you have all sorts of people trying to jump in as quickly as possible. Most of them right now are imports, so a lot coming from, you know, China, Taiwan, areas over in the Far East, but we are starting to see some local folks take a look and start getting different ideas of how they can manufacture straws," he said. "We feel that this trend will definitely continue, but it only continues if the end consumer is satisfied with paper straws in relation to what they were used to with plastic straws."
The new plant will be built on the city’s north side, near Smith Field Airport, moving from its east side location. Aardvark expects to add about half the new jobs by the end of this year. Romjue calls the addition of Aardvark to the company’s portfolio a "wildly rewarding experience."
The company has been offered more than $1 million in conditional tax credits from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. You can connect to more about the expansion plans by clicking here.